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UND FOOTBALL: Seibel running routes again

UND wide receiver Josh Seibel went through a passing drill Wednesday morning at the High Performance Center. The junior adjusted his route to the ball, jumped and snagged the pass. In some ways, it was typical Seibel to make the catch with ease. ...

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Josh Seibel runs through a drill during the first UND football practice at Memorial Stadium in Grand Forks, ND on Saturday, August 8, 2015. (Grand Forks Herald/ Joshua Komer)

UND wide receiver Josh Seibel went through a passing drill Wednesday morning at the High Performance Center.

The junior adjusted his route to the ball, jumped and snagged the pass.

In some ways, it was typical Seibel to make the catch with ease.

However, this time there's added significance. Seibel has been going through drills the past two days just four-and-a-half months after tearing his ACL and meniscus.

"My physical therapist has been pushing hard, and I've gotten some strength back," Seibel said. "I asked if I could run around, and he said it was fine so I decided to try it."

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Seibel, a Bismarck native, has been through a knee injury before. He tore his MCL, on the same knee, during his true freshman season.

The ACL injury, though, required a more aggressive rehab process.

Doctors told Seibel the typical recovery process for his injury would be six months. By months seven, eight and nine, Seibel was told athletes get their confidence back and run routes.

"I've been pushing myself, and my confidence is there," Seibel said. "I'm not running routes full speed but 70-80 percent, and I think that's good for where I'm at in the timeline."

Seibel originally set his goal for returning to the lineup on Oct. 1, which is UND's fifth game of the season. On Oct. 1, UND hosts Cal Poly-six months and 10 days after Seibel's knee injury.

With the accelerated comeback, Seibel now is hoping to trim a week or two off that original goal.

"The cool thing about Josh is that he really loves this program," UND wide receivers coach Danny Freund said. "He's going to fight his butt off to get back. It was a devastating injury because he really loves football and loves to compete. We talked about attacking the rehab like he attacks every day at practice."

Seibel is the most experienced UND wide receiver. His return would bolster a position group that is the deepest it has been in Bubba Schweigert's three-year tenure as head coach.

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As a true freshman, Seibel was a school start walk-on. When Schweigert's staff first took over, Seibel was moved to defensive back in spring ball.

He returned to offense the following season and earned a scholarship. As a redshirt freshman, Seibel quickly became a leader at wide receiver with a knack for getting open and a toughness for his limited size (5-foot-11, 180 pounds).

Seibel has totaled more than 200 yards receiving in each of his two seasons on the field. Last year, he caught 26 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns. The 26 grabs tied a team-high with Luke Stanley.

"He's done a good job coaching our young guys up and developing relationships," Freund said. "He's a kind of a coach. He learns football really well, and he has a good feel for how we read coverages and run routes. It has been a burst of energy to have him on the field again."

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Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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